Hokkaido Milk Bread, Tangzhong Method


Soft and milky sweet, eh? Then, I shall bake which I cannot resist

Commonly known in English as "Hokkaido milk bread" or "Hokkaido milk loaf", this Japanese-style white bread is dependent on cream, milk, and sometimes milk powder, for it's pronounced milky flavour. Typically, Hokkaido milk bread is made with dairy products from, you guessed itHokkaido, Japan. Although not having tasted Hokkaido milk myself, various online sources claim that farm-raised cattle in Hokkaido produces milk with a smooth, creamy, and distinct milky taste. Not surprisingly, due to these desirable characteristics, it's a popular dairy beverage in Japan and used in many of their branded food products, such as tofu, chocolate, and even beer!

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Following Christine's Hokkaido milk toast recipe, her version of Hokkaido milk bread contains a water roux starter called "tangzhong"a paste comprised of one part wheat flour and five parts water. So, why use it? Well, my dear friend, the purpose of the tangzhong is to add tenderness, moistness, and fluffiness to bread. Now, who wouldn't want that?

Ingredient List

Hokkaido milk bread ingredients.

Adapted from Christine's Hokkaido milk toast recipe, I reduced the total starter amount and added water to the dough recipe. Additionally, if available, I've included brand names of the food products I used.

Yield: 12 Hokkaido milk bread rolls
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 25 minutes

Equipment List

Sheet pan, Parchment paper, Whisk, Spatula, Strainer, Mixing bowls, Bowls, Measuring cups, Graduated cylinder (Measuring spoons), Chinese chef's knife (Bencher), Pestle (Rolling pin), Pastry brush, Spoons, Mechanical kitchen scale, Cutting board


Hokkaido milk bread preparation.

Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment.

Step 1: The stove, my age-old nemesis and cooking companion

Equipped with bread flour, water, a plastic spatula, and a metal pot, I wished, I hoped, and prayed that my bread starter will cook well. "Do as I say, flame-beast," I boldly proclaimed, "or you shall suffer the same fate as my microwave ovenharmless resentment!"

Step 2: Pouring the bread flour into the pot, then the water, I mixed the two ingredients until the flour was fully dissolved. In reality, however, I was hasty and did not do this It wasn't until heating the mixture when I discovered that clumps of dry flour we're still present. Hindsight, I should have turned off the stove and stirred the mixture until it had a smooth consistency. But no, I was an idiotalbeit a content idiot.

Further, please excuse the discoloration of the pot, which will grotesquely reveal itself in the photo below.

Step 3: On the stove, set at medium-low heat, I briskly stirred the flour-water mixture until the clumps of dry flour we're nonexistent. In contrast, the correct procedure would be to heat and constantly stir the said mixture until it's internal temperature reaches 65C / 149F or, alternatively, until the stirring utensilin my case, the spatulaforms visible trails in the starter. That said, my starter was overheated, but thankfully it was still usable.

"Hey, why is the photo bluish-green?" Well, believing it would improve the photo's clarity, I placed the pot near the kitchen window. Due to my notoriously clueless nature, I failed to notice that the leafy trees outdoors we're reflecting bluish-green light into the kitchen premise

Needless to say, or rather I must say, the flour-water mixture transmuted into a thick, lumpy, dull grayish-white paste.

Step 4: Setting the bread starter aside, I assembled the larger portion of bread flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, milk powder, strainer, and mixing bowl.

Step 5: Next, I sifted, then whisked the dry ingredients until they we're well blended. I knew it wasn't necessary to both sift and whisk the dry ingredients, but paranoia prompted me to strain the mixture to remove any potential foreign objects.

Step 6: Next, I retrieved my wooden spatula and gathered the wet ingredients: bread starter (184 g), eggs, milk, and cream.

Step 7: I then created a "well" in the dry ingredientsa convenient place to pour the wet ingredients into. (According to several sources on the Internet, under most culinary circumstances, it's better to add wet ingredients to dry ingredients rather than vice versa.)

Step 8: After pouring the wet ingredients into the "well", I began stirring the opposing wet and dry mixtures. Almost immediately, my baker senses tingled and I was aware that something had gone awry!

Step 9: Noticing that the dough was overly dry, by impulse, I took my cup of filtered drinking water and poured the liquid onto the under-hydrated doughat most, one table spoon (15 ml) at a time.

Step 10: Incorporating a total of four to five tablespoons (60 to 75 ml) of water into the dough, the above was the result. Thereafter, I placed the dough onto my cutting board and commenced kneading, using Richard Bertinet's technique. To my dismay, however, three problems had occurred: 1) the dough was too sticky, latching onto my fingers like blood-deprived leeches; 2) the cutting board refused to remain stationary; 3) I was unable to execute Richard's kneading technique because of poor memory, sometimes self-described as "amnesia-like forgetfulness".

Subsequently, I did the following:

First, for improved stability, I moved my cutting board from my countertop (i.e., desktop) to the floor. Second, in a flamingo stance, I used my foot to navigate through the Internet on my nearby laptop and reviewed Richard's kneading technique. (Clingy, sticky bits of dough rendered my hands useless.) Third, I re-kneaded the dough for twenty minutes or so until

I gave up! Overwhelmed with doubt and frustration, I insulted my baking skills and the dough (especially the dough). Suddenly, like a promising revelation, I realized that I had yet added the butter.

Step 11: With renewed hope, I lifted the cohesive mass (i.e., dough) from the cutting board and lowered it into the mixing bowl.

Step 12: Using a grasping motion with my hand, I then mixed the room temperature butter with the dough. As needed, I also scraped the sides of the mixing bowl with a plastic spatula to incorporate isolated ingredients.

.Step 13: To my relief, the addition of butter changed the dough's adhesion from sticky to tacky. After returning the dough to the cutting board, I re-implemented Richard's "slap and fold" technique, but later altered to the less abusive "press and fold" technique. However, I soon developed my own kneading process where I folded the dough in half, pinched and held the outer lips, then slapped the dough onto the cutting board. This was repeated for twenty minutes or so.

Step 14: Conducting the windowpane test every interval of two or three minutes, I persistently kneaded the dough. At some point, however, I proceeded to the next step after stating, "Meh, good enough."

Step 15: Relocating the dough to the mixing bowl, I sealed the bowl with plastic wrap and placed it into my inactive microwave oven. There, the dough was left to ferment for forty minutes.

Step 16: After nearly doubling in size, the bloated, gas-swollen dough was removed from the microwave oven.

Step 17: Removing the plastic wrap from the mixing bowl, I cautiously pried the dough onto the cutting board with my spatula. By doing so, the dough deflated and lost, at minimum, one-third of it's size.

Step 18: Substituting a rolling pin with a pestle, I gently flattened the dough into a rectangular shape, with a thickness of seven or eight millimeters (0.3 in). Moreover, during the flattening process, faint hissing noises we're emitted and heardthe sounds of gas bubbles escaping from the dough.

Step 19: Armed with a Chinese chef's knife, I rolled the compressed dough and divided it into twelve equal portions, discarding the oddly-shaped ends.

Originally, my plan was to mold each portion of dough into a "boule". Not surprisingly, however, I had forgotten how to do so and settled on "rolls".

Step 20: Next, I set each roll into a (9 x 11.5 x 1.5 in) sheet pan lined with parchment paper. I then placed the sheet pan, along with the rolls, into my inactive microwave oven for an additional forty minutes.

Step 21: After it's final stage of fermentation (called proofing), the rolls doubled in size and was ready to be baked.

Step 22: Preheating my microwave (convection) oven to 170C / 338F, I prepared the egg wash (i.e., one beaten egg) and applied it to the rolls with a pastry brush.

Step 23: Baking the rolls for twenty-five minutes, to my pleasant surprise, what emerged from my microwave oven we're lofty bosomsI mean, bread. (Hmm, perhaps this is why I rated my blog PG.)

Checking for doneness, I inserted a toothpick into one of the rolls, then withdrew it: clean as a whistle! Thus, I deemed the bread "done".

Step 24: As much as I wanted to tear the bread rolls apart and stuff them into my mouth, I set the bread rolls onto a cooling rack for over an hour, using a fan to facilitate the cooling process.

Step 25: The byproduct of baking twelve Hokkaido milk bread rolls was above. Was it worth it? You betcha!


Crumb (flesh) of the Hokkaido milk bread.

After an hour of being baked, the crust and crumb of the bread roll was soft and springy to the touch. When torn apart, intertwined strands of the crumb formed, snapping after exceeding it's limit of cohesion. Further, the crumb's odour was pungently yeasty or beery, was rather chewy, and tasted bland. In comparison, the crust was also chewy but possessed a slight caramelized flavour.

After a day of being baked, the crust and outer crumb of the bread roll had somewhat hardened and staled. In contrast, the bread's inner crumb remained soft and tender to the touch. The intensity of the bread's yeasty, beery odour had sharply decreased, only detectable when in near proximity of the nose. Further, a faint milky or buttery sweetness was identified in the crumb, while the taste of the crust did not alter.

Note: the bread rolls we're stored at room temperature in a microwave oven.


Despite that my bread rolls weren't as milky or sweet as I wanted them to be, I was still happy with the results. Additionally, I learned two important lessons from this baking incident: 1) depending on what type and brand of flour is used, the rate of water or liquid absorption will vary; 2) fermentation occurs as soon as the yeast is activated and doesn't halt until they're deceased. Keeping these new insights in mind, for the next trial, I'll reduce the amount of yeast (to compensate for the extended kneading time) and replace the water with milk to amplify the bread's milky taste.

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Posted in Cleaning Services Post Date 08/09/2017






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